Policy and Practice.
Review the Dear Colleague letter from the U.S. Dept of Education dated January 2015 (still available in Module 1). In this letter, the DoED detailed examples of multiple challenges that have been noted in SEA and LEA adherence to the various legislative and court decisions over the past decades since the ESEA and Civil Rights Act of the 1960s.
A. Identify and assess EL students in need of language assistance in a timely, valid, and reliable manner;
B. Provide EL students with a language assistance program that is educationally sound and proven successful;
C. Sufficiently staff and support the language assistance programs for EL students;
D. Ensure EL students have equal opportunities to meaningfully participate in all curricular and extracurricular activities, including the core curriculum, graduation requirements, specialized and advanced courses and programs, sports, and clubs;
E. Avoid unnecessary segregation of EL students;
F. Ensure that EL students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 are evaluated in a timely and appropriate manner for special education and disability–related services and that their language needs are considered in evaluations and delivery of services;
G. Meet the needs of EL students who opt out of language assistance programs;
H. Monitor and evaluate EL students in language assistance programs to ensure their progress with respect to acquiring English proficiency and grade level core content, exit EL students from language assistance programs when they are proficient in English, and monitor exited students to ensure they were not prematurely exited and that any academic deficits incurred in the language assistance program have been remedied;
I. Evaluate the effectiveness of a school district’s language assistance program(s) to ensure that EL students in each program acquire English proficiency and that each program was reasonably calculated to allow EL students to attain parity of participation in the standard instructional program within a reasonable period of time; and
J. Ensure meaningful communication with LEP parents.
Complete the following items.
1. It has been three years since the letter was published. In the intervening time, multiple changes have occurred in the national and state contexts. You have also significantly increased your understanding of the complexities involved in addressing each area given your readings and discussions over the past 4.5 weeks. Given your expanded understanding and the changed contexts within which ELs live and study, rank A-J in terms of which are the most pressing to least pressing in terms of presenting challenges for supporting Els today. By so doing, you will also identify which three you would prioritize as needing immediate intervention versus those that may be handled adequately or well now, which feeds to #3 below.
2. For each of the top three most pressing still needing interventions/support, summarize the findings presented in Sections A – J of the Dear Colleague letter (use your own words to do this) and your impression of the current state of affairs based on the past month of readings and discussions. (The findings presented are included in the longer document – still available in Module 1.) (~ 500 words)
3. Of the three most pressing issues, choose ONE, justify your choice, and provide a recommended course of action that you believe would begin the process of improvement. To think through the course of action, you can either take a very specific path (e.g. choose a specific school district as an example setting to illustrate your thoughts) or a more general path (e.g. look at national trends to contextualize your recommendations).
You should include references to resources from the semester: professional organizations, legal findings, policy guidance, local/state plans, etc. You can also use resources for further context (e.g. IES, NCELA, Colorin Colorado, etc.) and look at current news if you’d like to pull that in to explain your rationale/plan,.
You should list changes that would be needed to insure improvement (additional resources? staff? training?). In listing those changes, be as specific as possible in your recommendations. Comments like “More funding should be allocated to support ELs” is not appropriate. Comments like “Release time should be allocated for a series of professional development workshops to increase teacher understanding of X” (where X is clearly defined) is much more appropriate.